Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Think Big for Brexit Deal : UK, Ukraine, Turkey and Libya could be the EU's 'Interface States'

One way out of the morass of Brexit talks and Article 50 is to call the bluff of the Europeans who promote the big vision of their transnational project. The UK, to EU eyes, is currently an inward looking organisation reducing the great problems of the world to local issues from an earlier age.

We could counter that one of the reasons UK has lost interest in the EU project is that the EU has been sidelining a few issues on it's borders recently.  Ukraine to the east and Libya to the south are both gripped by civil wars, both of which the EU (including the UK) has some responsibility for igniting.  On Europe's south east border economically booming Turkey is sliding into authoritarianism.

Ukraine and Turkey have both been offered the carrot of EU membership in the past in a frankly unrealistic and disingenuous manner which did nothing really but cause them further internal turmoil.

The UK Prime Minister talks, of the positives for Europe which could come from a good Brexit deal. The future of the world economy is obviously that of large distinct trading blocks and we have to ensure relations between these blocks are not harmed by the encroaching isolationist sentiment.

Perhaps we could offer a blanket solution to the EU's problem border states with other trading blocs which would also invigorate world trade and resolve Brexit?

UK, Ukraine, Turkey and Libya could be defined as 'Interface States'. 

'Interface States' would have

  • Hybrid of local/EU trade rules (as the UK and Turkey currently have anyway) featuring favourable trade tarrifs with EU, to be particularly applied to transit goods coming in from outside the EU from larger trading blocs.
  • The option of using the Euro. Currency policy such as interest rates would still be controlled by the ECB and it would be made clear to all that no bail out would ever be offered to states outside the EU. Large parts of Africa already have their own currencies pegged to the Euro and there are ten nations currently using the US dollar without any control or influence on US monetary policy.
  • By default no free movement of labour - which has been the major stumbling bloc for integration with UK and Turkey and would be with Libya and North Africa. This could codify rules to protect EU frontiers.
Ukraine would be the interface with Russian bloc, and could include a wider trade deal initially more favourable to Belarus and Georgia than Russia, with an inducement to Russia for further progress if the current semi-Cold War improves. (This would at least provide some positive way out of the current impasse with Putin).

Turkey would be the interface state with the Middle East - as it effectively is at the moment but without the formal status and guarantees it probably needs to work effectively long term.

Libya, or perhaps in the short term Tunisia, would be the interface state with Africa, A semi-Eurozone in North Africa could only be good for local stabilization and might encourage economic migrants to trade and proper instead of risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean.

UK would obviously be the Interface state with North America and the Anglozone and the Commonwealth. (It wouldn't have to adopt the Euro).

We could go farther.

Cuba could be offered Interface State status to become EU's favoured partner in Central/South America, which would be a huge diplomatic gain for the EU in that area.
US objections would disappear as this inevitably improved Cuba's internal politics.

A comprehensive oil/gas deal in the South Atlantic could be offered if the Falklands became the EU's Interface State with South America. If the Falklands retained British sovereignty and security guarantees but adopted the Euro and in every other economic respect became a controlled conduit for EU trade how could that be a bad thing economically and politically all round?

This could be applied further as well, out beyond the EU.

By sidelining national politics completely Taiwan could be the Interface State between North America, Japan and China, leading to a wider solution which would lesson tensions in the area.

Afghanistan or even Kashmir could be declared Interface States between South Asia and China, allowing an influx of trade and investment which would undermine the political problems.

To codify this Interface States could even be given their own trading organisation and forum at the UN.

I've heard this idea promoted before as 'Britain as the bridge to the Americas' but it seemed an ambitious idea wrapped in British self interest. We should avoid being portrayed as little Englanders, recover the internationalism of our forefathers and be prepared to roll this idea out on a global scale - with the help of the Europeans.

I'm sure  cynical post Brexit Europeans will be suspicious of this, thinking perhaps in terms of Perfidious Albion

(I voted Remain by the way and consider myself a committed European)

but the message endlessly disappointed Europeans need to learn is on the front page of every self improvement book -

"Learn to accept the situation the way it is"

The bloody vote happened.
Most people really don't like the result.
Let's get on and make the best of it.

If the Interface States idea seems hopelessly impractical and optimistic consider the state of Ireland after Brexit. With no hard border to the Republic in the south, Northern Ireland is likely to become a  test case 'Interface State' between the EU/UK whatever happens.

And in any case I think right now the world needs all the optimism it can get.

The Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, 13 September 1782. By John Singleton Copley (1738–1815)

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